Phil Grace is 67 years old and lives in Guethary, France and Australia. He shapes custom surfboards daily at Euroglass, Hossegor.
In 1969 I’d seen The Endless Summer and was just mesmerised by Bruce’s Beauties, and I knew I had to go.
I was drafted to fight in the Vietnam war, but I told them my arm was paralysed and got away with it; after one day in the army I was discharged, with a day’s pay.
Originally I was booked on a boat passage, but Qantas brought out a discounted under 26’s fare, and I took that. There were just 8 surfers at J-Bay including me, I was riding a 5’10” single-fin.
We didn’t have leashes or long arm full suits then, that stuff just didn’t exist. I was there with a guy named Jim Pike, the brother of Bob Pike, one of the first guys ever to ride outside Pipeline.
There were no houses, no buildings along the point at J-Bay, just the point, the beach, and the most beautiful, perfect waves I’d ever seen.
I had some friends booked on a boat from Cape Town to the Canary Islands, so I gave them my board and gear and flew to London with the intention of hitching down to the Canaries. I was in London for several weeks, and it was in full swing. It would have been one of the most happening places anywhere at the time, and you could feel it being there. I went to see John Mayall play at The Olympia. There was music everywhere, London was really happening.
(below: This is actual gig Gracey went to)